A disgruntled doctor armed with an assault rifle and wearing a lab coat went on a rampage on Friday in the Bronx hospital where he had worked, killing a female doctor and wounding six other people — five of them seriously — before setting himself on fire and shooting himself in the head, the authorities said.
The furious attack by the doctor — identified by the police as Henry Bello, 45 — sent workers at the hospital, Bronx-Lebanon, diving behind desks and doors as gunshots and smoke filled the hallways of a place devoted to healing. Witnesses described medical workers’ ripping a fire hose from the wall to use as a tourniquet on one victim’s leg, while others recalled the horrific sight of the gunman, his torso aflame, running down a hallway.
Terrorism was quickly ruled out. Instead, it appeared to be the type of mass shooting by a lone gunman that has struck communities around the United States.
“He’s shooting! He’s shooting!” one woman yelled in the frantic initial moments of the afternoon assault, as recounted by a mother in the pediatric emergency room who had cowered with her five children, ages 1 to 10.
Some believed that the death toll would have been far higher had the shooting occurred anywhere but where it did — a hospital filled with state-of-the-art medical equipment, and with doctors and nurses who rushed to victims even as the gunman was still at large and performed triage where they fell, in staircases and hallways.
“The situation unfolded in the middle of a place that people associate with care and comfort,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a news conference outside the hospital on the Grand Concourse in the Claremont Village neighborhood. The gunman acted alone, Mr. de Blasio said, adding that it appeared to be a workplace dispute that ended when the gunman committed suicide — “but not before having done horrible damage,” the mayor said.
The police did not identify the victim, other than as a woman and a doctor. The five seriously injured patients were “fighting for their lives,” said the police commissioner, James P. O’Neill. The sixth had a gunshot wound to the leg.
Dr. Bello was going to be fired by the hospital, but instead chose to resign, after he was accused of sexual harassment, said a police official, who was granted anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation. Another police official said Dr. Bello had left the hospital some time ago. “He didn’t leave voluntarily,” the official said.
Dr. Bello was armed with a rifle, an AR-15, that investigators believed he sneaked into the hospital under his lab coat, the two police officials said.
While investigators were still trying to determine a motive, one official said, “Most likely it’s a workplace violence on the part of a former disgruntled employee.”
The New York State Education Department said that Dr. Henry Bello had received a limited permit to practice as an international medical graduate in order to gain experience so he could be licensed. The permit was issued on July 1, 2014, and expired on July 1, 2016. He also had a pharmacy technician license that had been issued in California in 2006.